Female Disruptors: Masha Waldberg of Annabella On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
7 min readMar 28, 2024

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The most important thing to know is that you don’t yet know what you don’t know — be humble, acknowledge that there are things you have yet to learn and surround yourself with people who are willing to share their experiences with you. Always assume you don’t have enough information, especially when starting a new phase or project.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, we had the pleasure of interviewing Masha Waldberg.

Masha Waldberg is the co-founder and VP of Product for Annabella, a first of its kind, FDA-cleared and patented breast pump. Masha founded Annabella after her experience breast pumping, which proved to be painful and time exhaustive. Frustrated by the options in-market, she created a breast pump that closely mimics the experience of breastfeeding, prioritizing speed and occurrence of milk.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

It all began when my husband and I made the decision to start a family. I immersed myself in literature about pregnancy and childbirth, eager to learn as much as I could. When our little one finally arrived, that’s when Annabella came to life. As a new mother juggling the responsibilities of running a learning center in Israel, I found breast pumping to be painful, uncomfortable, and incredibly time-consuming. I knew there had to be a better way to simulate natural breastfeeding. That’s why I created Annabella to provide mothers with a pump that’s not only efficient but also comfortable. I believe that all mothers deserve a breast pump that makes their lives easier.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The Annabella pump has a few differences that make it unique and disruptive, the first and most important one is the tongue mechanism. In addition to the features all other pumps have, Annabella is able to replicate the baby’s suckling and the wave-like motion of the tongue. This is what signals the mom’s brain that it is time to produce and release milk from the breast, creating both an efficient and pleasant breast-pumping experience, almost like breastfeeding.

Another feature that Annabella has that makes moms’ lives easier is that it is adjustable and can fit most sizes. A lot of the time, efficient pumping depends on the breast shield size. A lot of moms don’t know that they need a different size, and even if they did find the right fit at first, the size could change throughout their breastfeeding journey. So, we found a solution.

Annabella has a knob that you can rotate and adjust the opening of the breast shield, making it bigger or smaller, depending on what feels more natural.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early on, when we didn’t even have a working prototype, my partner and I liked to prank each other. One time, after weeks of trying to stabilize a 3D model of the breast pump with no success, I decided to pour soy milk into the bottle and send him a picture captioned “Happy April Fools’ Day”.

He wrote back, “Great, sending this to our potential investors!” and turned off his phone. I can tell you that I probably lost at least a year of my life before he answered and told me that he was only joking. I learned my lesson, and that was the last time I have ever tried to prank him.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

One of the things I am particularly grateful for is the fact that my mentors are also the people I’ve been working with. The first and most important one is my business partner and the CEO of Annabella, Uri Yaffe. Uri taught me everything I know about business and startups. I was very young when we started, and sometimes it feels like he practically raised me.

Besides Uri, Amir Shiner and Adi Shfaram both helped me gain experience in everything related to product development. They spent hours guiding me and pointing me in the right direction when it came to finding more information and growing professionally. They also taught me the value of hard work, patience, and humility. I dream of one day being able to share my knowledge and experience with someone in a similar way.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

In my field of consumer products, being disruptive is often the by-product of a well-developed device that gives an excellent solution to a large group of people. Being disruptive is never the goal itself, but rather an indicator that you are doing something that makes an impact. It’s never about turning the world upside down or making a revolution, rather it is more the evolution of taking something that serves us and making it better.

When it comes to consumer products, I believe that this is mostly a positive thing, as it means that customers are letting their actions speak by choosing the product that gives them the most value. As an example, mothers are choosing the Annabella breast pump because it is pleasant and efficient, and some even say that it feels like nursing. In other words, it gives more value.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Uri, my business partner and the CEO of Annabella, taught me to work in parallel and not to wait until something is perfect

I used to run a learning center and it taught me to hire slow and fire fast. You should always trust your gut instinct when it comes to people you are inviting to work with you, especially in a small business where the impact of each person is enormous.

The most important thing to know is that you don’t yet know what you don’t know — be humble, acknowledge that there are things you have yet to learn and surround yourself with people who are willing to share their experiences with you. Always assume you don’t have enough information, especially when starting a new phase or project.

And finally, it’s never about equality, but it is always about equity.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

There are a lot of things I want to do to further improve and change moms’ lives for the better. But for now, my main focus is to further develop and improve the breast pump we’ve created. We are working on a double breast pump and a wearable breast pump as well.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I don’t think I can actually answer this question, as most challenges I have faced, especially in the beginning, were more related to my age and limited experience and less about my gender. Luckily, in my field, there is no shortage of talented people who were kind enough to join me. I can tell as we grow our team that women and men face the same challenges, particularly when it comes to childcare and raising a family. I know this is unique to the people we have chosen to work with, and I consider myself very lucky in that respect.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis, Hooked by Nir Eyal and Loonshots by Safi Bahcall are, in my opinion, the best books to read as entrepreneurs. However, the most important thing that changed my perception of our startup was when I had the opportunity to sit in the investor seat myself and review the startup from an entirely different perspective. It forever changed my view and helped me make better decisions because I gained a broader perspective. I believe that all entrepreneurs should do this exercise.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I am actually doing exactly that — Annabella is a startup dedicated to making products that will improve the lives of young mothers and make their breastfeeding journey easier. Our first step was to introduce to the world a breast pump that is pleasant and that works similar to nature, but this is only the beginning.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Remember the one that gave up? Neither does anyone else.”

This has been my mantra throughout all the years of development, in the midst of a pandemic and multiple global crises, and also the ups and down of motherhood. I had many breaking points but I knew that quitting was not an option for me. I knew that if only I could keep going and push through, in the end I would reach my goal. If your life has meaning, and if you are making it your life’s work to make the world a better place, and you truly believe in what you are doing, then giving up is not an option. If you give up no one will remember, nothing will change for the better. You can have all the talent and money in the world but if you don’t persevere it won’t get you anywhere.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can learn more about the breast pump and Annabella at https://annabella-pump.com/.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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